19 June 2013: Freedom’s death will come knocking

Freedom’s death will come knocking

Keep your Uzis and other rapid-fire, mass-loaded weaponry.  They’re mere toys.  Deadly ones, to be sure, but in the symbolic sense, they’re laughable.  Guns and an arsenal-level cache cannot prevent the kind of subtle inch-by-inch erosion of Americans’, as Ben Franklin called them, “essential liberties.”

The final surrender will come not in a form of an OK Corral-like showdown, but with a whimper from fear-filled, knee-knocking Americans begging their government to “protect” them.

From 20,000 leagues under the sea, Osama bin Laden is laughing from his watery grave.  He and his terrorist cohorts are winning the war.

His executioner, the Great Liberal Barack Obama, has forfeited his liberal cred on this issue.  He’s far from alone.  Other otherwise progressive voices have aligned themselves with the security-first side.  It’s a slippery slope at the bottom of which there is nothing worth protecting.

Rob Witwer, in a recent piece on these pages, suggested we liberals have our own Nixon.  Rob neither offered substantive evidence nor mentioned the president’s name.  It was guilt by implication, one of the great outrages of the McCarthy period he references and correctly decries.

The IRS brouhaha, however, is nothing more than a tempest in a Tea Party Teapot, much ado about nothing.  The spying on Americans, on the other hand, now completely sanctioned by the man in charge, is the real reason for resistance.  Obama is not then liberals’ Nixon, but some liberals’ George W. Bush.

The government is not some “other entity” of mysterious human-like automatons.  It’s made up of real people like Edward Snowden who can act independently, as Snowden has, for whatever reason, well-intentioned or maliciously.  If a low-level functionary such as Snowden who revealed to the Guardian the depth of the government’s intrusion into our daily lives—if you use a cell phone or send emails, they got you dead to rights—imagine what any rogue, disaffected NSA functionary can do.  We need not only to worry just about the Big Boys—they’re not particularly interested in our middle-class woes, our much ballyhooed way of life—but also the Joe Schmoes, the techie brainiacs who make it happen.

Though our lives might be pathetic jokes to them, they’re important to us.  They understand that, so they know in the end many will succumb willingly.  Polls show it.  Americans are willy-nilly willing to surrender essential civil liberties, those First Amendment things, along with the Fourth Amendment that assures us against unreasonable searches and seizures.

It’s happening, and as it happens the ghost of ol’ Ben from his dusty grave warns that We the People are deserving neither essential liberty nor security.  Over two centuries ago, he saw it coming.  It just took time for technology and a hyped-up threat from across the ocean barriers that once upon a time provided security to present the means and the reasons.

Sen. Mark Udall says the NSA’s collection of millions of Americans’ phone call records is the “type of overreach” he has warned about for years.

It’s unnecessary as well, says Udall, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“We have not yet seen any evidence showing that the NSA’s dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records has produced any uniquely valuable intelligence,” Udall said in a joint statement with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).  “The public deserves a clear explanation.”

Yes, we do.  Udall and Wyden are introducing a bill this week that would stop the insidious snooping by both father-knows-best officials and underlings who can go rogue.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) warns the snooping is just “tip of the iceberg,” which means we’ve seen only perhaps one-eighth of the depth of the scandal.

Three Democrats, so far…Any freedom-loving Republicans aboard?

Keep them in fear.  Convince them their “way of life” is more than threatened: It is perilously endangered.

Go ahead, northeast counties, and threaten to secede from the state.  Go ahead, sheriffs, and sue the state and set yourselves above the law by refusing to enforce them.  Anoint yourselves as saviors.  You’ve gotten so wrapped up in your delusion about men-in-black government agents swooping in you don’t realize you are already building the prison in which you’ll live out your days quaking in your boots.

The death of freedom will come not with a knock on the door in the middle of the night but in full view, apparent only to those not blinded by fear.

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